No playoffs for Varly. Sad Varly. (Photo via: carrotbazooka.tumblr.com)
The day before Semyon Varlamov was traded, all indications were that he was headed to the KHL. When news broke that he’d been traded to the Colorado Avalanche for a first and a second-round pick, we were a bit surprised. It was a great trade for what had been essentially a dead asset, but still, there was a point in the season when we had to wonder if the Caps’ own first-round pick wouldn’t end up being higher than Colorado’s.
Now with only one game remaining in the season, both the Caps’ and the Avs’ fates have finally been decided. As of Thursday night, Colorado is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, which means that #AvsFailWatch has officially come to an end, and the Capitals can finally start to get an idea of what shape the assets they hold are going to take.
Some questioned Colorado’s willingness to trade their first-round pick under the assumption that, like last season, that pick could turn out to be a top-five asset, while some of course insisted that it was the best deal ever. As it turns out, the Avs didn’t fail quite as hard as we might have liked. Much like the Caps, they remained within contention all year, though they didn’t seem to have the legs for that final push.
- With one game left to play, the Avs will likely end the season exactly where they are right now — in 19th place overall. Depending on the results of Saturday’s game, they could also potentially end in 17th, 18th, or 20th place overall.
- If so, their pick will draft 11th, 12th, 13th, or 14th in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft this year.
- Since they are a bottom-14 “lottery team”, there is a slim chance that they could win the Draft Lottery and move up four places to 7th, 8th, 9th, or 10th but this is highly unlikely since the lottery is heavily weighted in favor of the teams with the fewest points.
One of the main reasons for the Avs’ unexpected competency? Well, he’s 6’2, 210 lbs, and he used to wear a Caps jersey.
Photo credit: Michael Martin
That’s right, our very own Semyon Varlamov was either one of the year’s best surprises or the year’s worst undercover agent. While his season started out rocky and he took his share of criticism along the way — having your feelings hurt is a good reason to write a column — he also had some blazing hot streaks that helped keep the Avs afloat, as well as putting up a stunning 8-0 shootout record, leaving us in the awkward limbo between affectionately proud and downright frustrated.
So what does this mean for the Caps? Which cross-section of gawky teenage hockey stars are now available to us? You can take a look at TSN’s Draft Centre or NHL rankings to peruse what now qualifies as The Menu. Though it’s likely the rankings will move at least somewhat before draft day, prospects such as Brendan Gaunce, Colton Sissons, or Zemgus Girgensons — all centers — could be available to the Caps.
Assuming that George McPhee does not decide to move one of the picks as he did in last year’s draft — turning a theoretical asset into Troy Brouwer was the best magic trick we’ve ever seen — the Caps now have two draft picks in the first round. This might be a good year to stock the larder, none of us are getting any younger, and winter is coming.